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The Power of Networking in China

When it comes to doing business in China, you would have surely heard how important networking is. David Caselli, CEO New Zealand China Direct and Director of I Grow (a corporate finance firm), put it to me this way:

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When it comes to doing business in China, you would have surely heard how important networking is. David Caselli, CEO New Zealand China Direct and Director of I Grow (a corporate finance firm), put it to me this way: “It’s all about networking. How do you get a billionaire to come to a function of a company they’ve never heard of? The recommendation has got to come from a trusted advisor.”

And to illustrate his point, I will share the story that he related to me about two New Zealand real estate agencies that came to China around a year back seeking to sell property to the Chinese wealthy.

The first agency placed adverting in Shanghai Daily (a Shanghai English-language newspaper with an approximate circulation of 85.000). Once here, they hosted a function at a good hotel to present their properties to prospective buyers….

Results: “Zero” people came along.

(Note: From here it all looks like a beginner’s mistake, as Shanghai Daily, although enjoying quite a nice readership, mainly caters to expats, visitors and overseas investors)

The second agency (part of the Hartcourts Group) had a very different approach. They:

  • did not advertise once
  • relied on their kiwi Chinese staff to use their connections to identify partners in China. Those partners were connected, knew or dealt with good prospective investors or migrants hoping to come to New Zealand (they were businesses looking after the wealthy people in Shanghai)
  • brought up 16 real estate agents from New Zealand (all of them equipped with iPads loaded with all the properties they were trying to sell)
  • made sure all the collateral was in Chinese, all the contracts were in Chinese
  • hired New Zealand Central ( a Shanghai-based business centre set up by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as a “New Zealand-branded” space/support to kiwi companies trying to do business in China)
  • had a very well organized program, with sets of four hour groups that kept them busy for a week

Results:

  • They managed to present the properties to hundreds of people, including wives of billionaires…And they did very good business.

So, I will finish this post with the same line I started with: “It’s all about networking. How do you get a billionaire to come to a function of a company they’ve never heard of? The recommendation has got to come from a trusted advisor

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